“Are you ready to resign? Resign today and leave by your own will. You are part of the past, of a chapter the country is about to close.”
So said Pedro Sanchez, Socialist leader of the Spanish opposition, while addressing Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister who is most known in much of the west for batooning grannies during the Catalonia referendum.
“While families were suffering in the crisis, you were becoming millionaires,” Jose Luis Abalos, who was responsible for presenting the no-confidence motion on behalf of the Socialists, told members of Rajoy’s centre right People’s Party (PP).
PP is at the centre of a corruption scandal that has shaken Spain with the Madrid-based National Court finding it had engaged in a vast system of bribes given to former party officials, including the treasurer, between 1999 and 2005.
A number of individuals linked to Rajoy’s party have been sentenced to jail, with PP itself fined 245,000 euros ($290,000).
“The PP has had corrupt people, I acknowledge it but the PP is not a corrupt party,” Rajoy said earlier today.
Rajoy became the first Spanish Prime Minister to testify in court, with the judge finding his testimony as not credible. That has now led to a motion which may well make him the first Spanish Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote.
Sanchez has apparently secured 175 votes with just one more needed as a simple majority out of 350 is sufficient for the no-confidence vote to pass.
If the vote passes, Sanchez takes power briefly, with elections to be held sometime in autumn. During that period, Spain would effectively be brought to a standstill politically and legislatively.
If the vote doesn’t pass, they’re vying for a snap election, with the Basque Nationalist Party so to decide the fate of Spain as their five members may well decide whether it goes through or otherwise.
“You can’t force a country to choose between corruption and stability because there is no greater instability than that caused by corruption,” Sanchez said during the parliamentary debate.
While Rajoy is accusing Sanchez of trying to gain power through the backdoor, even though the new government, if there is one, would have to call new elections.
As far as markets are concerned, they don’t like political instability, but then they also don’t like corruption either. The situation in Spain, therefore, is in no way comparable to that of Italy as Spanish people remain very much pro EU.
Any instability, moreover, would likely be temporary and Spain, like many other European countries, is somewhat used to a transitionary period of weeks or months when they effectively have no government.
Elections, however, can sometime return unpredictable results, but Spain’s economy is growing and has recently overtaken that of Italy.
But unemployment in Spain remains very high, at some 17%, compared to around 5% for UK and Germany, with their overtaking of Italy’s economy saying more about Italy than Spain.